Aug 4, 2009

Is Nuclear Power Renewable?

from 8/3/09 James Kanter

Many environmental groups are fundamentally opposed to the notion that nuclear power is a renewable form of energy — on the grounds that it produces harmful waste byproducts and relies on extractive industries to procure fuel like uranium.

Even so, the nuclear industry and pro-nuclear officials from countries including France have been trying to brand the technology as renewable, on the grounds that it produces little or no greenhouse gases. Branding nuclear as renewable could also enable nuclear operators to benefit from some of the same subsidies and friendly policies offered to clean energies like wind, solar and biomass.

So far, however, efforts to categorize nuclear as a renewable source of power are making little headway.

The latest setback came last week, when the head of the International Renewable Energy Agency –- an intergovernmental group known as IRENA that advises about 140 member countries on making the transition to clean energy –- dismissed the notion of including nuclear power among its favored technologies.

“IRENA will not support nuclear energy programs because it’s a long, complicated process, it produces waste and is relatively risky,” Hélène Pelosse, its interim director general, told Reuters last week.

Energy sources like solar power, Ms. Pelosse said, are better alternatives — and less expensive ones, “especially with countries blessed with so much sun for solar plants,” she said.

Blog Replies include:

The basic problem of the climate crisis is the ever-expanding overload of heat energy in the closed biosphere of earth. Temperatures going up indicate the increasing heat energy overload. Everyone reading this should check out Dr. E. Chaisson’s article titled “Long-Term Global Warming from Energy Usage” in EOS, Trans. Amer. Geophys. Union, V. 89, No. 28, Pgs. 253-4(2008) to learn that nuclear energy, be it fission or fusion, being developed should be dropped with money put into it being put to developing renewable energy supplies using the sun, wind and hydrogen.
The hydrogen needs to be generated from splitting water using sunlight with the best one or two of seven catalysts reported in the last two years. Or with excess solar or wind collection generating electricity that could be used to generate hydrogen by electrolysis of water.
There is no way that nuclear power can avoid releasing trapped energy to increase the energy overload, so it should be forgotten.
To remove some of the energy as well as some of the carbon overload in the biosphere, we need to turn to pyrolysis of massive ever-expanding organic waste streams to remake charcoal that will be removing some of both overloads. It will require using renewable energy and the pyrolysis process expels about 50% of the carbon as small organic chemicals that can be collected, refined and used foe fuel that is a renewable one. For more about using pyrolysis, search my name on GreenInc blog or google it for other blog comments on pyrolysis.
Dr. j. Singmaster


The last president called nuclear power renewable:

In fact, we can expect to run out of uranium before we run out of natural gas and we can expect uranium shortages in just a few years (India is already dealing with shortages). So, while there are people who do call nuclear power renewable, they are mistaken.

— Chris Dudley


I don’t see much wrong about nukes except their cost which is 2-4x’s as much as most RE like wind, solar thermal/ CSP, river/tidal power or biomass. Nukes other problems and possibly the cost can be solved but not by large hot water reactors. Nor can one say it’s CO2 neutral as both the building and fuel processing take huge amounts of energy, CO2 to do while less than coal, it’s a lot more than most RE.

Present US nuke plants are cost effective because they are paid for. And finally safe as the operators have figured out doing it right makes much more money than cutting corners does.

Nukes have recently been bid at $9k/kwhr and every plant for 20+ yrs has been 50-100% over budget. So it’s really hard to call them cost effective. Then you have the huge running costs + fuel which doubled recently and will double again now the cheap Russian stockpiles are gone.

Now compared to wind at $2k/kwhr and CSP at about $3k/kwhr, in home sizes once in real mass production.

Tidal/river about $2k/kwhr or coal at $4k/kwkr and NG about $3k/kwhr.

Though coal is by far the worse energy problem including radioactive pollution, and it is the one that should be eliminated for so many reasons. Google Radio Active Coal Emissions for a real eye opener.

And little has been said about the largest, cheapest energy source, eff/conservation as the energy we don’t use is the cheapest, cleanest of all. Just this can eliminate the need for coal for much less money than coal costs.

So either change nuke tech to something safer, cheaper like Pebble bed reactors, etc, or let it go.

— jerryd

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you in princiiple. But one cannot escape from the fact that we need energy in increasing volumes. The present fossil fuel based power stations spew evil gases into the already dying atmosphere. The only other alternate energy that is available is nuclear energy. I fully agree with the waste disposal problems.
    Now which is the greater evil, carbon emissions or nuclear waste disposal. Let's look at the pros and cons. In the meantime develop solar, wind, wave energy as much as we can.
    You have to make a compromise here. Althogh I condemn nuclear energy in no uncertain terms, I feel at least for the present it is necessary evil.
    And there's of course one way out of this disposal. Take the waste material to outer space where they pose no threat.